Monday, April 27, 2009

Tell Me Where it Hurts

Torture is an ongoing feature of the American empire. We used torture as far back as the U.S. invasion of the Philippines after the Spanish American War and likely prior to that time as well considering the way Native Americans were slaughtered. In fact Indian children were torn from their families and horribly abused. Torture is still being used today under Obama despite whatever else he may claim.

So why does Obama not wish to neither investigate nor prosecute the guilty? I have read many opinions on why. One is many Democrats have been complicit in the use of torture. While this is without question true it is also true that torture is ongoing so to seek prosecution of guilty individuals would mean that we recognize that torture is wrong in every sense and therefore we would logically halt the use of torture. But we simply aren’t doing that. It may be that our leaders are afraid that if an independent investigation really occurred that it might ultimately lead to wider recognition that we still torture captives making it more difficult to continue the practice. I believe the simplest explanation is that Obama is a firm believer in American exceptionalism, enthusiastically so. How exciting to be in the big time, a world player choosing who is to live and who will die. Obama believes in the fantasy of world dominion where U.S. interests are always preeminent, always the motive for murderous expansion.

In a previous post I wrote the following concerning the criminal proceedings in Spain against members of the Bush administration for the use of torture…

…Secondly it really obscures the fact that the U.S. is still sending prisoners to secret prisons in foreign lands to be tortured and killed.

My thinking behind that statement was twofold. Firstly, why prosecute underlings when we have Bush and Cheney dead to rights and that by investigating some Bush underlings it creates a false assumption that the use of torture is no longer tolerated by our enlightened shining light, the Saintly Obama, who comes with more Teflon than Reagan ever dreamed of being coated with. And of course if the majority of Americans can be misled into believing that torture has been halted so much the better, so much easier to continue the practice.

Maybe the question should not be why Obama doesn’t want an investigation but why does he actually want an investigation despite his public statements to the contrary? I’m not saying that I know this to be a fact or that I actually believe it, it is merely conjecture. Then again maybe it is enough that with the release of the torture memos the topic of investigation and prosecution is now being discussed which achieves pretty much the same thing, that it creates an assumption that we no longer torture prisoners.

I know I have said this before and that I am repeating myself but the immense hypocrisy of investigating and prosecuting those who have tortured in the past by a government that continues to torture is something that almost boggles the mind.


At April 28, 2009 9:46 AM, Blogger M. Pyre said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At April 28, 2009 9:46 AM, Blogger M. Pyre said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At April 28, 2009 9:47 AM, Blogger M. Pyre said...

I believe the simplest explanation is that Obama is a firm believer in American exceptionalism, enthusiastically so. How exciting to be in the big time, a world player choosing who is to live and who will die. Obama believes in the fantasy of world dominion where U.S. interests are always preeminent, always the motive for murderous expansion.*****

I think there is a whole lot of truth in that observation, rob.

One thing further I'd propose --

While I rail against the Ivies whenever I get the chance, I also recognize that it takes a certain intellectual facility to get into and through law school. I didn't meet many people of moderate intelligence at my 2d tier law school, although I did meet some naive people. But most of the naivete washes away after 3 years of exposure to cases which time and again reinforce the idea that business is the business of America, and that business drives all of America's policies, domestic and foreign.

A person with The Obamessiah's educational background would not have difficulty seeing that there are other ways for America to be. The essence of legal analysis is imagining as many possible outcomes, problems and fixes as possible for a given notion, and then craft a strategy accordingly. That's what business-oriented lawyers (corporate lawyers) do. That's what Obama has done his entire post-law-school life -- either reinforcing it as a short-time law professor, or living it as a legislator in the Illinois and US legislatures.

So I can't imagine that he cannot envision how or where this current strategy of his has problems. And I can't imagine that he faithfully believes in American exceptionalism.

What I think much more likely is that he's just craven, seeking power and riches. For that's the only thing which underlays the brand of politics he employs -- greed, acquisition of power, and authoritarian lording of that power over others domestically and abroad.

No, I think Obama is just a callous Yuppie. And I seriously doubt he "means well." And I think for sure, he is stoked to be POTUS because it carries so much of an appearance of massive power -- despite the fact that the real power is held by those who arranged his position as POTUS.

At April 28, 2009 6:32 PM, Blogger rob payne said...


I’m sure Obama is smart enough though I have often wondered if he was just a moron but even smart people can be blinded by their beliefs and the culture that produced them. I have to agree that Obama is callous; there is no doubt about that. It is, after all, part of the job description as head executioner. He was murdering Pakistani in what, the second or third week, or was it the first? At any rate no one pursues the kind of power that the presidency provides without being willing to kill. Basically I despise national leaders in general.

The way I see it a belief in American exceptionalsim is compatible with being craven, callous, and thirsty for more power because American exceptionalism is the justification used to be callous and a seeker of power. In other words American exceptionalism only exists because of the horrendous and murderous acts carried out by our national leaders as a way to somehow justify their criminal acts. You know how it goes, “I’m only killing you because I want to help you” type of thing.

For all I know you may well be correct that Obama isn’t a believer in American exceptionalism at all, just another glory hunter who wants to go down in history while making some money along the way though I suspect Obama will make more money after his term(s) is over making speeches etc.

I was reading Juan Cole’s 100 day report card for Obama today and though Cole does find some differences between Obama and his predecessor (he who cannot be named) but I could not help but think that though Cole is an exceptionally smart person he still cannot see that the only real difference between Obama and Bush, when it comes to foreign policy, is style. In fact almost all the differences he delineated were based on how much better Obama’s style was which makes me question Cole’s judgment when it comes to Obama and the Democrats. Being smart, while admirable, is surely no proof against personal bias and false world views foisted upon us by our own culture. Such as it is.

Of course, I am above that sort of thing myself, totally unbiased, that’s me.

At April 28, 2009 6:57 PM, Blogger M. Pyre said...

me too rob, totally unbiased!


and of course each of us is assessing Obama based on how each of us sees the world. I'm incredibly pessimistic, not quite a rabid negativist but not far off either. haven't always been, but I've seen too many surprisingly bad things in what I'd call my intellectually adult life -- beginning somewhere in high school, I'd say. I've had blinders ripped from perspectives many times, have been through a good number of perspective changes. and outside the political arena, in the personal sphere, I've encountered a lot of surprisingly evil people who seem to be successful at passing themselves off as other than that. the things I've seen people do just for money... it shook me right out of one line of work (lawyering). but maybe that's more a statement about how I view money versus other things we can have or experience in our lives.

honestly, I'm just baffled at what motivates someone like Obama or anyone else who'd seek that position of POTUS. I don't understand people who want to master other people. I don't understand that desire to be a professional liar, which is what a federal-level politician must be presently. I surely don't understand the use of violence, nor the reason to stay in Iraq. I mean, intellectually I understand it's greed and acquisitiveness and insecurity, but I don't comprehend how those things can drive someone to such extreme measures. I can only guess that they're incredibly, indescribably insecure and terrified people whose response is to try to gain lots of power to feel safe. I dunno. that's the best I can do in figuring them out. what I do notice, however, is that when I have taken a very pessimistic view over the past 10 years, the pessimistic view has been shown dead on the money. for my own purposes, assessing the landscape and gut-checking the assessment, then watching what unfolds, I've predicted quite a few things correctly over the past decade... merely by thinking the worst of people.

so that explains a little about why I'm so convinced that Obama is crass and craven rather than a true believer.

I think you're dead on about the self-executing, self-consuming nature of a perspective of American exceptionalism -- the things it causes are justified by the perspective; the perspective causes more of the same after reinforcing itself on a past evil deed. This is a major idea in Arthur Silber's 2d part of his series he's doing now, re prosecution on torture. I agree with how he's discussing it so far, and I agree with how you've discussed it here.


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